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“Appointment with Love” and “The Gift of the Magi” Comparison Essay

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Updated: May 25th, 2021

“Appointment with Love” and “The Gift of the Magi” are two stories devoted to the same topic of love. The stories are completely different in their plot but have many similarities in the main characters and the relationships between them. “Appointment with Love” was written by Sulamith Ish-Kishor and was first published in 1943 in the heat of World War II. In this story, a military pilot, Lt. Blandford, returns from the frontline and is getting ready to meet the lady he has been corresponding with for more than a year for the first time. “The gift of the Magi” is a Christmas story which was written by O’ Henry and was first published in 1905.

The plot of this story is built around a young married couple Della and Jim. They are facing serious financial challenges and doing their best to preserve their feelings. While one story was written by a man and the other by a woman about forty years apart, both feature love and affection on the different stages of their development. Sulamith Ish-Kishor in “Appointment with Love” and O’ Henry in “The Gift of the Magi” feature characters who are ready to sacrifice a lot for their beloved people. The stories convey the theme that love should be seen as an internal power that never lies on the surface; both stories show that one has to be devoted and wise to support the feelings of the close people because only true feelings make life real.

The stories under analysis have a number of common traits and some differences. The similarities result from the choice of the theme, and unique features typical of the stores are created by the vision of the author. All those features create the narration full of feelings and emotions sophisticatedly reflected in the plot.

The main characters of the stories have several traits in common. First of all, they are all young, creative, and determined in facing the challenges of the world. Secondly, they are full of feelings and emotions resulting from their perception of reality. The difference between the characters of “Appointment with Love” and “The Gift of the Magi” is created by the nature of the world. While Della and Jim are facing financial difficulties, the main character of “Appointment with Love,” John Blanchard, puts his life at stake fighting Nazi Germany. The intensity of feelings creates suspense from the first lines of the “Appointment with Love.” The routine life under the burden of poverty creates smooth narration abundant in mirror details in “The Gift of the Magi.”

While uncovering the theme of love and wisdom, the authors create the most lovely female characters corresponding to the conventional understanding of beauty in women. O’ Henry describes Della as a slender young woman with the most beautiful knee-length brown hair. Ish-Kishor describes Miss Maynell with the help of the main hero. With a leap of his heart, Lt. Blandford sees a young girl of about 18. “Her figure was long and slim; her blond hair lay back in curls from delicate ears. Her eyes were blue as flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness. In her pale-green suit, she was like springtime come alive” (para. 5). Both female characters are rather typical in their appearance. But their characters are not boring and predictable. Della or Mrs. James Dillingham Young is an inventive young lady and a devoted wife who finds a way to make a good present to her husband. Miss Maynell supports a soldier who is facing death every day of his life for thirteen months. She finds the right words that can renew the strength of a soldier facing the real death in battle. Besides, Miss Maynell has enough courage to test the relationship that lasted for more than a year in the bravest and most sophisticated way. In both stories, female characters represent strong and willful personalities who are not afraid of taking real actions when it is necessary and are ready to deal with the consequences.

Some degree of similarity can also be seen in the main characters of the stories. O’ Henry presents Jim to the reader in the following situation “He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat, and he was without gloves” (29). The main hero of “Appointment with Love” is presented with fewer words and in a less dramatic way “The tall young Army officer lifted his sunburned face” (para 1). That is all that can be said about the man of war searching for his true love. In general, young men can be described by their actions rather than by their appearance. We can say for sure that both of them are rather persistent. Lt. Blandford found a woman by her name written at the back of the books and became pen friends with her. Mr. James Dillingham Young or Jim is only 22 years old, but he does his best to support his family and make Christmas a real holiday for his wife.

Their characters are especially vividly unveiled in the moments of anxiety, and those moments show how similar those young men are experiencing stressful moments with a real storm of various emotions. In the course of a very short story, Lt. Blandford experiences a whole range of passions. At the very beginning of the story, he feels that “his heart was pounding with a beat that shocked him” (para. 1). Close to the outcome of the plot, “Blandford felt as though he were being split in two, so keen was his desire to follow the girl, yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned and upheld his own” ( para. 6). As a person who realizes that in love, one has to be wise, Lt. Blandford makes the right choice even in the state of anxiety. As for Mr. James Dillingham Young or Jim, facing the unexpected situation, he feels stunned and asks the same questions repeatedly, but as soon as he manages to collect himself, he finds the right words for his wife.

Some differences can be disclosed in the manner of the narration. Initially, “Appointment with Love” and “The Gift of the Magi” are written with the third-person narration. Usually, in such cases, the narrator is the author of the story. When the narrator is not one of the characters, the plot is described from the outside, and the reader is given an opportunity to see all the characters as equal and perceive the plot as a holistic picture rather than a line of events for a certain character.

Both stories have classical well-developed plots that go from the set-up to the payoff through the stage of climax. It is believed that “An outstanding quality of “Appointment with Love” is its plot” (Dunning 33). Stories written by O’ Henry are also characterized by neatly developed lines of narration. Well-organized and balanced plots contribute a lot to the disclosure of the theme of the stories.

Significant parts of the narration are devoted to the issues of the attractive appearance of a woman. In “Appointment with Love,” the conflict lies in the fact that in spite of having been corresponding with Miss Maynell for more than a year, Lt. Blandford never succeeded in talking her into sending him her photo. She responded to his request in the most sensible way “Suppose I am beautiful. I’d always be haunted that you had been taking a chance on just that, and that kind of love would disgust me. Suppose that I’m plain, then I’d always fear that you were only going on writing because you were lonely and had no one else” (para. 4).

The response of the girl brings us closer to the development of the theme. It discloses the meaning of inner beauty of true feelings and physical attractiveness that rivals it. The narration states that appearance can seriously influence human feelings. Della or Mrs. James Dillingham in “The Gift of the Magi is also really worried that her husband will not approve of her changed appearance. “If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl “(29). In the course of the narration, it becomes clear that appearance does not influence the feelings of the husband, whereas in “Appointment with Love,” the appearance of Miss Maynell has a crucial influence on Lt. Blandford’s feeling and their possible relationship, but the lieutenant manages to make the right choice.

Both “Appointment with Love” and “The Gift of the Magi describe young, active, and enthusiastic characters who realize that the course of life always tests deep real passions. It is vital to support the sincere feelings of the close people by looking into the heart and soul and supporting the person encouraging inner power and strength. The stories show that real feelings are not based on physical appearance; they take their roots in a person’s willingness to sacrifice a lot to support the human bond established by real emotional closeness.

Works Cited

Henry, Ossian. The gift of the Magi. Simon and Schuster, 2014. Print. 2-32.

Kishor, Sulamith Ish. “Appointment with Love.” Teaching Literature to Adolescents: Short Stories, edited by Stephen Dunning. Glenview, III.: Scott, Foresman, 1968. Print. 32-37.

Kishor, Sulamith Ish. 2017, Web.

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